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4 Books About Poverty That Should Top Your Summer Reading List

With summer underway it is becoming necessary to have a backup list of summer reading books to save you from the boredom of long flights and the inevitable bickering of family car trips. So why not use that free time to brush up on your knowledge of global poverty? The following books each provide a different way of looking at poverty’s history and the current issues facing us today.

A Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa – Deborah Brautigam
It has been often said that China is only helping Africa with their poverty situation for self-serving, greedy purposes. But is this true? China has pulled hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty themselves and they could just want to spread the wealth and aid with another poverty-stricken country. Deborah Brautigam, a leading expert on China and poverty, pulls from her three decades of experience in China and Africa, and hundreds of interviews in Africa, China, Europe and the US, to discusses the myths and realities, explaining what the Chinese are doing, how they do it, how much aid they give, and how it all fits into their “going global” strategy.

Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding – And How We Can Improve the World Even More – Charles Kenny
All too frequently we focus on the bad news, how many are dying or starving or suffering repression. And while these things are important to remember, it can be good sometimes to realize that what we are doing really is making a difference in the lives of others. While many people argue that global aid has ultimately failed, economist Charles Kenny believe otherwise. In this books he brings up evidence of widespread improvements in health, education, peace, and liberty. He claims that this is all thanks to innovations in cheap technologies like vaccines and bed nets, as well as ideas like political rights. While he understands that there is still much to be done, he argues that so much has been accomplished already and it only makes sense to continue to help in every way that we can.

Wine to Water: A Bartenders Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World – Doc Hendley
What started out as a series of wine tastings to raise money for global aid turned into a trip into one of the most dangerous places in the world: Darfur, Sudan. Doc Hendley was a regular, small-town bartender looking for a way to help bring clean water to those in need. But he never dreamed that he would end up witnessing mass genocide through the deprivation of water. He knew he could never afford to build new wells in these places, so he came up with a plan to fix old wells. This is a story about his journey into some of the outer-most reaches of the world and how one person really can make a difference.

Clean Water for Elirose – Ariah Fine
It is never too early to learn about water poverty and how we can help pull people from that plight. Clean Water for Elirose is an illustrated children’s book about a group of kids who set out to help their classmate gain access to sustainable, clean water. It also provides a number of activities, discussion questions, and websites where you and your family can learn more about clean water organizations. The book may be ordered at full price or at cost for those who are short on cash, but still want their child to learn about water poverty. The best part, aside from keeping your child entertained and educated? All the proceeds from purchasing the book go to clean water projects!

– Chelsea Evans

Sources: Foreign Affairs, Amazon, Penguin, Clean Water for Elirose
Photo: Interpretations of Dreams